Originally published June 2020. Updated February 2023. What if you made it easier for your site's visitors to buy from you? Increasing online sales doesn't have to be an intimidating undertaking. There are fundamentals that any business can and should implement. But how do you go about it? Try these 7 simple but surefire moves. 1. What's In It For The Customer? You love your products just like you love your children. But when you focus too much on what you love about the product, you run the risk of your customer tuning out. The answer: focus your headlines on what your customer gets from the product or service instead. Advertising legend David Ogilvy famously said, "5 times as many people read the headline as read the body copy," and numerous studies have since confirmed the disproportionate importance of headlines. Marketer Derek Gehl emphasizes that an effective headline tells the customer not what the product is, but what it does for them. He highlights the example of a company that makes a storage box for Legos. The company's website had the title "The Amazing Toy Storage Box For Lego." Accurate, succinct… and boring. Gehl changed the headline to "Finally! Discover the Secret That's Got More Than 50,000 LEGO-Crazy Kids Worldwide Actually LOVING Clean-Up Time!" A Lego storage box doesn't sound that special, but anything that makes kids love cleaning up is a must-buy. 2. Make It Urgent How many times have you almost purchased an item before getting distracted, checking one more thing, or deciding to put it off for another day? And how many times have you not bothered to return later and buy the product? It happens to your customers, too. That's where "urgency" comes in handy. Limited-time discounts and limited stock messages are proven tactics for increasing sales. Deadlines activate people's fear of loss, which is very strong in humans—stronger than joy caused by gain. So while a customer might waffle on whether to buy your product, they will buy quickly when a ticking clock counts down (sometimes literally) until they lose their discount. The customer might not want the product that much, but they fear losing it (and the discount) even more. Be sure to emphasize scarcity and urgency on your site when using limited-time offers. 3. No One Reads: They Skim Fun fact: no one actually reads the web ... they just look for the highlights. We've known this since 1997, when research organization Neilsen Norman Group famously shared its research on how people read websites. Said the organization, "We found that 79 percent of our test users always scanned any new page they came across; only 16 percent read word-by-word." If you're hoping your persuasive paragraphs will do the selling, it's time for a refresh. Focus more on features including headlines, images, charts, graphs, captions, and more. Your site's goal should be to help people get essential facts quickly. Bold, italicize, and underline key words and phrases. Use bulleted or numbered lists instead of listing things in long sentences. And be sure you make it very easy for people to compare, make decisions, and find the button that allows them to buy. 4. Is Your Customer Hooked? Show Them the "Buy" Button. in marketing, we call this the CTA, which stands for Call to Action, but you can think of it as the "Buy" button or whatever you want your site visitors to click to start shopping. Where should it go? Ask a customer. Once you've hooked them, where would they look for the option to buy? Debates rage about this, BTW. In big e-commerce companies, placement of the "Buy" button is tested and tracked, retested and optimized. You can do the same, if you have time and a web developer. Or you can use the insight of online experts. For example, you may have heard the advice to move your Buy button below the fold. "Below the fold" is a newspaper term literally meaning below where the newspaper is folded, so beyond where a reader could see without actively looking. In web terms, it means "where the reader will have to scroll down to see." Some companies were surprised to find that moving their Buy button below the fold increased conversion rates. As marketing guru Neil Patel explains, what they were actually observing was the effect of moving their Buy button after their pitch. Instead of scaring away users with an immediate ask, they won them over with persuasive info and then presented the option to move forward with a Buy option in the right place at the right time. As Patel points out, if users are landing on your homepage already sold on your product and ready to buy, then it is totally appropriate to place that Buy Now message above the fold. What matters most is simply this: be sure you don't miss an opportunity or jump the gun. Put the Buy option in a conspicuous location and be sure it's presented once the customer is ready. 5. So Many Moving Choices ... Or Too Many Options? Have you ever visited a website and encountered a rotating slideshow of images and information at the top of the page? Then you know what an image carousel is. While they were long the darlings of web designers, customers weren't always so keen on them. Why? Too many options, too much movement, too little time. Usability researcher Jakob Nielsen relates the story of a customer who could not glean important information from the very first slide of a carousel and explains how carousels can even disadvantage users who are low-literacy, non-native language readers, and/or mobility impaired. More recently, major brands have switched back to static banner images. Static images have the added benefit of forcing you to determine which single image, deal, or piece of copy you want to highlight. While choice may seem great to you as the seller, for your customers, limitations can be better since they streamline and simplify your user experience. 6. How Complex Is Your Cart? Whether you're selling a product or a service, keep it simple for customers. According to Facebook, "87% of consumers say that a 'complicated' checkout process will make them abandon their shopping cart." One of the easiest ways to correct this is to reduce the number of pages in the checkout process. When possible, make checkout a single page. Ask for only essential customer information. Entering a credit card number also counts as an additional "step," so if you can include payment options should include digital wallets like Apple Pay or PayPal you can simplify the process more, especially if your customers use their phones to shop. As a side note, you may also consider Buy Now Pay Later options, too. If your customers skew more Gen Z than Baby Boom, the split-it-up payment solution can be compelling encouragement to spend more. 7. Can You Ship It For Free? We're not telling you anything new here: free shipping is still essential. XDelivery.ai's 2022 State of Shipping report indicated that customers still want free shipping—and they expect their items to arrive quickly (within 3 days!). Providing free shipping has long been seen as a good way to boost online sales, but also one of the most important. Baymard shows that a whopping 50% of consumers who abandoned items in an online shopping cart did so due to "extra costs" at checkout like shipping. There are additional benefits that may offset the costs. Studies have found that customers will spend more per order with free shipping (sometimes to meet minimums) and will wait longer for an order if shipping is free. Regardless, if you're not covering shipping costs, it may be time to test the waters to see if it makes a difference. Test Changes to See What Works Best All of these methods are backed by previous testing and experience, but only you will see what works best for your product or service, your customers, and your business. Test things. While bigger organizations use A/B testing on their sites, which randomly gives users one of two versions of the site's user experience, smaller businesses may be more limited in options. If that sounds like you, try changing just one thing at a time to see how it impacts your sales. Do new headlines encourage more people to buy? Does relocating the CTA/Buy button result in more items being added to the cart? And don't be afraid to ask your site visitors what they think. Sometimes user feedback is the best way to find the answer. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lendio. 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